Calcasieu Police Jury, United Way to help Crestwood Community

It may not save every resident from becoming homeless. But there's a new effort to help the Crestwood Community, the trailer park closing Feb. 9 where many residents face the possibility of being homeless.

The Lake Charles Southwest Louisiana Continuum of Care and United Way are partnering to provide money to help residents move.

They can provide help with things like utility and security deposits and residents' first month's rent. The deadline to sign up is Tuesday, Feb. 6.

"The purpose of this initiative is to provide security deposit, utility deposit, security deposit and first months rental assistance for residents of Crestwood manufactured home park who need assistance in their transition as a result of the mobile home park's closing," said Tarek Polite, the police jury's human services director.

Denise Durel, who represents United Way, said, "Our board of directors allocates dollars for us to spend specifically to help people who are in crisis or immediate need. And so therefore we are able to allot five thousand dollars of those dollars to the Crestwood effort," said Durel.

A special hot line has been set up for Crestwood residents by United Way. The number is 433-4946. The deadline is Feb. 6.

Many residents have been in crisis mode since they received word they have to move . Lillie Chambers, with the continuum of care, traveled to the park to spread the word of the help.

Residents like Margaret Bertrand are grateful.

"I just want to say God Bless the people who are trying to help us."

Yet, it quickly became clear many residents' situations are more complicated than just finding a place to rent.  They have trailers to either sell, move, tear apart for scrap metal or recycle. Said Bertrand, "If I can't sell my trailer I'm going to tear it down and sell it for scrap."

Even with help many here are doubtful they could afford rent anywhere. Here some pay as little as $160 dollars a month to rent a spot for their trailer. Connie Chesson and her husband Jessie are among those who could very easily be homeless by February 9th. " I wake up during the night. I don't sleep good. I'm up early wondering where we gonna go, what we gonna do,"
said Connie.

Jesse had surgery for a pinched nerve and is disabled.  Said Jessie, "If we don't get out of here we're not going to have nowhere to go. I'll be living on the streets."

They take the bus or ride bicycles to get where they need to go. Next week they plan to apply for government housing."We have no transportation and we can't find no place to live. We ride our bicycles to go find someplace to live and we can't find nowhere. And then most of the places want an application fee and we don't get no money until the first. And we got til the ninth to get out. I don't know what me and my husband's going to do," said Connie. Jessie admits,"After we pay our rent her wanna throw us out. And it's not right and we don't got no place to go."

Bayou Mobile Home Transporters is trying to help residents who want to move their trailers.

Anyone wishing to donate materials — anchors, straps, wood wedges or blocks to help defray the cost of moving — maycall that United Way hot line number at 433-4946 and they will help coordinate.

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